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Anyone for golf?

Boldly and with great presence, combined with good technique: that’s how Arnold Palmer plays his...Bridge. Yes – Golf legend Arnold Palmer is no mean Bridge player: as is evidenced from this deal he declared as South at his Florida Golf Club.
Rubber Bridge
South Deals
N-S Vul
A Q J 9 8 3
Q J 8
Q 8 2
8 5 3 2
K 6 2
K 6 3 2
7 6
W   E
9 7 4
10 5 4
9 7 5
10 5 4 3
A K J 10 6
A 10 4
A K J 9
West North East South
Pass 2  Pass 3 
Pass 4  Pass 4 N1
Pass 5 2 Pass 7 N3
Pass4 Pass Pass  
  1. How many aces?
  2. Answer one.
  3. Takes on a small green over water from 250 yards, where laying up would be most people’s option. Or the Bridge equivalent.
  4. West makes a brief but telling hesitation.


That great presence Palmer always had on the golf course translates to a great table presence. The implication of West’s brief hesitation over his 7 NT bid was not lost on him. That, together with his passive opening club lead (around to declarer’s second suit, rather than an unbid diamond or a heart through dummy’s strength), convinced him that West held both red kings.

Without the above inference, the best line in 7 NT is to take the diamond finesse (after cashing the ace of hearts first – on the off chance the king is singleton). Note that the diamond finesse (running dummy’s queen) is superior to the heart finesse (low to the jack) because it will give you the two extra tricks you need [you have 11 top tricks via five spades, four clubs and the two red aces] if successful. The heart finesse will only give you one extra trick (unless West holds Kx).

Placing West with those kings necessitated a different route. Palmer won the club and cashed the ace of diamonds at trick two. He then ran all his black suit winners, to leave the ending (across) as the last spade was led.


K 6 2
W   E
10 5
9 7
10 4


What could West discard? A diamond would promote declarer’s ten (or dummy’s queen) so he had to throw a heart. Declarer threw dummy’s queen of diamonds, then led a heart to the jack, cashed the ace felling West’s king and tabled the promoted queen. 13 tricks and grand slam made.

Only an communication-severing opening heart lead would have prevented the squeeze from functioning.


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